Friends – A Project about Social Media

How do young people with Asperger’s syndrome use social media? In order to answer this question, Funka performed a research project in collaboration with the Norwegian research company Karde, with funding from the Norwegian research institution IT-funk. Using surveys and statistics, we were able to come up with a result that will hopefully lay the ground for further research on the subject.

Although the project had a rather limited scope, our overall conclusion is that social media is often a positive factor for young people with Asperger’s syndrome. When socializing over the internet, factors such as undertones and facial expressions, which may be hard for this group to interpret in real life, has less impact on the communication. Also, the respondents felt that they got more time to think about their next move. Another positive factor was the internet offers a chance to find people similar to yourself, possibly people with the same neuropsychiatric condition, who can better understand what it is to live with Asperger’s syndrome.

However, the respondents had also encountered some difficulties when using social media. “Things that happen automatically” was a factor which many respondents pointed out as problematic was. Moreover, 25-30% reported that they had experienced problems with “messy pages” and “too much text”.

About a third of the young people reported that they had experienced bullying, hijacking of accounts and sometimes more severe violations over the internet. When we compare these results to a Swedish study on 15-16 and year olds and internet in general (Feltizen, Findahl and Dunkels, 2011), we find that experiences of such violations are more common in the group with Asperger’s syndrome.

 

Funded by: IT Funk
Consortium: Karde
Period: 2012

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